For almost 60 years, the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce has recognized local businesses during an annual awards ceremony. For the big one, the Chamber’s business of the year award, some critria need to be met.
In addition to simply being a successful venture, community service and engagement need to be a little more than average. Something unique about this year’s winner is how they go about drumming up business. Not with advertisements or flashy, road side displays. They’ve sponsored just about everything and volunteered with just about everyone.
Chamber board member Ryan Kapp explained that networking strategy.
“This company doesn’t do any monetary advertising to speak f, however, being engaged with all the organizations and associations (they are), they very effectively market themselves," Chamber board member Ryan Kapp said of Airport's networking strategy.
"Whenever anyone is looking for help or assistance as it relates to heavy equipment, they are the resource. Congratulations to Airport Equipment Rentals, the Soldotna Chamber’s business of the year.”
Manager Chuck Winters accepted the award.
“When I started with Airport ten years ago, right out of the gate, corporate said ‘Hey Chuck, on the (profit and loss) the advertising expense line, we just kind of keep that at a minimum. With the resources we have at Airport, being able to support those organizations, it’s unbelievable. And that’s the way we stay engaged.”
In the small business category, a shop that, in its first two years has already expanded into Kenai; Everything Bagels. Kapp with a brief history of that venture.
“It all begn in January of 2016 when this young couple moved to the area from Florida and struggled to find a really good bagel at their local grocery store. After months of their bagel cravings going unfulfilled, they decided to make their own. It was a fantastic idea, except for one problem; they didn’t know how to make bagels...But they’re not just bagel people, they’re community people. They’ve created new jobs in the local economy as well as hired employees through the criminal rehabilitation program, which employs individuals recently released from incarceration." Congratulations Pamela and Matthew Parker, owners of Everything Bagels.”
“I want to thank the community, obviously, for supporting us. But I definitely would like to thank our staff even more. They have been with us since the very beginning and they work so hard. And there’s no way we could do this without them," said Pamela Parker, co-owner of Everything Bagels
The Pioneer award went to long time Peninsula resident Carol Knutsen. She currently volunteers as a docent for the Soldotna Historical Society and Museum. And a relative newcomer to Peninsula, Scott Howser, won volunteer of the year. He’s the manager at Kaladis in Soldotna.